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It’s basically always the cradle or the grave for our dear heroine.
The two of us drew circles to the music. Despite the height difference, Yukino-kun was doing his best to lead. And he was only six! What an amazing boy!
“You dance well, Yukino-kun.”
“Really? It’s not hard to dance because I’m too short?”
“Why, not at all. I happen to be enjoying myself immensely, thanks to your leading.”
“Ehehe. I’m having a lot of fun too.”
Soooo cuuuuute! Dancing with an adorable little angel like this? I’m so happy!
We were moving through the hall, step after step, when I made eye contact with Mao-chan whose eyes were glittering. Then Enjou who was still dancing with Aira-sama. He looked taken aback. I was probably going to hear complaints about this later, but…
“I hope I’ll grow taller soon. I wonder if I’m this short because I hate milk.”
Yukino-kun was actually so cute that all thoughts of Enjou disappeared for the moment. To think that he was worrying about his height. He really was a boy. It wasn’t something to concern himself over at all. He was still in 1st grade so there was a lot of growing left to do. Actually, I kind of wished he’d stay cute like this forever.
His hair glowed amber in the light as I continued to follow his lead in circles around the hall.
After that one song we left the dance floor, since I had to think about his body as well.
Cheeks slightly flushed, Yukino-kun drank plum juice, while I helped myself to a non-alcoholic margarita. Yummy!
“Are you all right, Yukino-kun? Are you tired?”
“I’m fine. How about you, Reika-oneesan?”
“I still feel fantastic.”
Maybe the jogging I did over the summer was why my stamina seemed better than before. The day after tomorrow I was headed to the Imperial Palace with Mihara-san as the culmination of my summer training. I wonder if I would be okay. It was five kilometres after all. I could already see all of the real joggers looking at me like I was completely out of place.
“You know, Yukino-kun, for a 1st grader you are very good with the waltz. Did you practice a lot?”
“That’s not true. Compared to Niisama I’m not much.”
Yukino-kun watched his brother again.
“I think you were plenty skilled.”
Actually, if Yukino-kun had danced as flawlessly as Enjou, it might have been a little creepy even.
“Have you finished your summer homework?” I asked him.
“Yes. I finished most of it in July, so when I was done I stayed at a cool villa for a while.”
“Goodness, is that so! What a good boy you are!”
“It was too hot for me to go outside so I didn’t have anything else to do. Niisama helped me with the parts I couldn’t do.”
I’d been thinking this for a while now but Enjou sure was sweet on his brother.
“Yes. Although Niisama was too busy to really be around much… Oh, Niisama is coming over.”
Having finished dancing, the four of them headed our way, still the centre of attention.
With one hand Enjou signalled a waiter for a drink, while he plopped the other down on Yukino-kun’s head.
“Yukino, you haven’t been causing trouble for Kisshouin-san have you?”
“Of course not,” he sulked in offence.
Ohhh! It was rare seeing this expression on Yukino-kun. I guess he was more comfortable acting childishly when it was his older brother.
Aira-sama greeted me with a smile.
“Long time no see, Reika-chan.”
“It has been been a while, Aira-sama.”
And it really had. The last time I met her face-to-face was actually during that incident with Kaburagi, right? Not that we hadn’t sent each other the occasional email.
“It’s been a while, Reika-san. Do you remember me?”
“Of course I do, Yurie-sama.”
Was there anybody who could forget as wonderful as person as her? Yurie-sama laughed gently at me.
“Yukino! How you been!” said Kaburagi before ruffling Yukino-kun’s hair.
Yukino-kun tried to swat his hands away, but his hair was already a mess, and Kaburagi was having fun holding on.
Stop it! Don’t be so rough with him, you fool! You’re going to snap his poor little neck!
Before I could stop him, Aira-sama and Yurie-sama delivered Yukino-kun from evil, and the two of them tidied his hair again.
“What are you doing, Masaya!” scolded Yurie-sama.
“Kisshouin-san, thank you for looking after my brother.”
“You mean the dance? In that case it was very much the other way around. I owe him my thanks for being considerate of a wall-flower like me.”
Whether it was Yuuri-kun or Yukino-kun, the Petite Pivoine was just filled with gentleman. Honestly, I was envious.
See? Off in the distance some primary school girls were sneaking glances our way. Apparently Yukino-kun was already incredibly popular in the primary section. I felt a little bad now for monopolising him.
Mao-chan and Yuuri-kun came over to greet Yukino-kun at those girls’ request.
“Yukino-kun? Say, how about you come talk with everybody at the Petite?”
“Okay. Niisama, I’m going.”
Yukino-kun waved goodbye and headed for his own friends.
“Had you planned on coming to this party, Aira-sama, Yurie-sama?”
I hadn’t heard a thing about that, you know.
“Youko-san invited us quite passionately, but I was still on the fence about it,” explained Yurie-sama before giving a happy smile, “But then Masaya invited me to come with him, so…”
Kaburagi invited her!? And Yurie-sama agreed… Don’t tell me his romance really bore fruit!?
Enjou gave me a helpless smile.
“I think you’re misunderstanding, Kisshouin-san.”
“There’s nothing going on between Yurie and I,” said Kaburagi.
This time the four of them smiled at me.
“Masaya came over, you see, and told me that he had come to terms with things. He apologised for everything, and thanked me for waiting all that time.”
Yurie-sama’s eyes seemed a little wet.
“It was my fault for not being clear with him. Because of that I hurt him so much. When I heard that he had gone to Toujinbou, and then again when he went to the Sea of Trees, each time it felt like I was being gutted. I wasn’t sure I was alive…”
Her hands began to tremble, like she was recalling those very moments. Kaburagi’s one man heartbreak journey had caused a lot of shock for those involved, hadn’t it. You know, the destinations being what they were.
“Even when I heard that Masaya was getting a little better, I hadn’t thought I’d ever be able to face him again. I didn’t think he could forgive me. But then… Masaya came to visit me the other day…”
This time Yurie-sama had finally broken into real tears. Kaburagi looked apologetic, and handed her a handkerchief. She must have really suffered… Yurie-sama had always thought of him as her adorable younger brother after all.
This time it was Kaburagi’s turn to talk.
“It wasn’t like I didn’t know how she felt. But fourteen years of those feelings weren’t so easy to deal with… I’m sorry, Yurie.”
She shook her head to let him know it was fine.
“But I finally got over it,” he continued, “I might not love you in that way anymore, but you’ll always be special to me. That’s why if you ever need me, I’ll always come to help. No matter where you are, Yurie.”
Ah! That was the line from Kimidol.
I see. This meant he really had gotten over her then. It might have been annoying with the poem anthology and all that, but seeing all of them smile made me feel happy for them.
“Reika-san, I heard from Aira that we caused you quite a bit of trouble. Sorry. But thank you as well.”
“Oh gosh, no, I did really nothing at all.”
“Yeah,” commented Kaburagi, “The two of just shared the pain of heartbreak.”
Oii! What the hell are you saying!
“Eh-, your heart was broken too, Reika-chan? By who!?”
“Goodness, Reika-san. It must have been rough.”
Stop! Please! Stop looking at me with pity like that! Stop asking who did it! Kaburagi, stop nodding knowingly like that, damnit!
And now Enjou was sniggering in the background, damnit! Ahhh, geez! Come back, Yukino-kun! I need your soothing angel blessings!
And so the summer break ended, and what I had to show for it were memories of finishing the Imperial Palace run, half-dead.
Today I would enter 2nd Year.
──And then that morning of the opening ceremony, an incident rocked the school.
Kaburagi and Wakaba-chan arrived at school together, chatting happily all the while.
“Reika-sama, what on earth is that supposed to be!?”
“Reika-sama! Why is Kaburagi-sama with Takamichi-san!?”
With Serika-chan shaking my left arm, and Kikuno-chan shaking my right, I was rocked too, physically.
I! Don’t! Knoooooow!